NewsBlaze search box Daily News header

Harlem Aria Film Review

By     get stories by email

Opera Serves as Fulcrum for Unfunny, Unlikely-Buddy Comedy

Anton (Gabriel Casseus) is a mildly-retarded 28 year-old reminiscent of that title character Cuba Gooding played in Radio. The difference here is that this idiot savant is blessed with a love of opera and a great singing voice.

Unfortunately, the prospects aren't exactly brilliant for Anton, given that he's stuck working in a dead-end job at a laundromat. Plus, he lives with his overprotective aunt (Eyde Byrde) because his gullibility and generosity make him easy prey for the unsavory vultures prowling around his Harlem neighborhood.

Harlem Aria
Tom Hardy in BRONSON, a Magnet Release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Everything changes the day he decides to run away from home to pursue his passion and ends up in Greenwich Village where he forges an unlikely friendship with homeless Wes (Damon Wayans), one of those bad things that happens to good people. The fast-talking street hustler introduces his mark to Matthew (Christian Camargo), a classical pianist playing requests for passersby in Washington Square Park. Soon, Anton and Matthew are performing together, with conniving Wes serving as their manager and collecting tips for the suddenly popular panhandling duo.

Don't be fooled by Harlem Aria's promising premise or syrupy sweet resolution, since the problems with the production betwixt and between are plentiful, starting with Wayans' portrayal of Wes as a jive and relentlessly-crass creep. From his use of the n-word (like "Niggerati" in lieu of the black Pavarotti) to his homophobic asides (ala "You look like a gay Ninja Turtle") his lines are more apt to offend than to induce laughter.

And I wasn't sure what to make of half of his ostensibly improvised non-sequiturs, such as "My d*ck is bigger than your d*ck, and I'm going to hit you with it if you don't shut the f*ck up." Co-star Gabriel Casseus' interpretation of Anton was equally troubling, given that here's a half-wit who seemingly can't even boil water who somehow magically morphs into a talented tenor capable of crooning all the classic operas in their native languages perfectly, simply by donning a tuxedo replete with tails.

Harlem Aria marks the ignominious directorial debut of William Jennings, who made the movie way back in 1999. It tells you something when a film takes over a decade to find a distributor. Basically, a one-man coon show that relies on crude jokes delivered in African-American cadence for comic relief.

100 minutes of Hell that had me reaching for my meds.

Poor (0 stars)
Rated R for crude and profane language.
Running time: 100 Minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

To see a trailer for Harlem Aria,

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Where to Invade Next hops from one topic to another, never lets the audience know what it's about and, after two hours of cinematic navel gazing, it's unlikely they care.
Prairie Miller has a Halloween Visitation. Cult Horror Director Sam Raimi drops in, Death Of A Salesman In Yiddish and classical concert pianist Hannah Reimann
Bond is back, possibly Daniel Craig's last outing. Can SPECTRE step out of the shadow cast by SKYFALL's great acclaim. Read Kingsley's review to find out!
This race hate documentary chronicles neo-Nazi relocation to Leith, a small town in North Dakota, and what the locals did to get rid of the supremacists.
Prairie Miller has a conversation with Ben Vereen, about Time Out of Mind, his movie with Richard Gere, a film about the homeless struggling to survive.
A power-hungry ruthless assassin mobster wants to muscle-in on illegal Mafia rackets in the Italian North End. An intimidating, monster with no conscience.


NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month

Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

Copyright © 2004-2015 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site